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Council gets the full scoop on 'poop'

Staff writer

Council members watched a movie Monday evening of the interior of part of Peabody’s sewer system.

“This is riveting,” Council Member Megan Holt said.

While the video, by Mayer Specialties, generated some comments about what could be seen rising to the surface of the water in the 12-inch pipe, it also highlighted problems with Peabody’s 100-year-old sewer system.

Interim Public Works Superintendent Ronnie Harms has long had concerns about the stretch of sewer that runs under Santa Fe Park south of the business district.

“This 200 feet or so of pipe ends up with about 90 percent of Peabody’s sewage and waste water,” he said. “It all ends up here before going to the sewer plant. It cuts across the park and then under the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe tracks and angles east to the co-op area.

“It is more than 100 years old and has had trains rolling over it all that time. If we have a problem with that stretch of sewer, it is going to affect the whole town,” he said. “And boring under railroad tracks to repair it is a big process.”

Harms and city employee Todd Woodruff dug up the manhole near the alley on 1st Street between Walnut and Sycamore Sts. several weeks ago. The brick street had been laid over the manhole a century before, making access to the sewer line nearly impossible. The manhole was raised to be even with the street and bricks relayed around it.

“Mayer had to flush the sewer two or three times for us to get these pictures,” Harms said. “The silt, sludge, gravel, trash, and debris were pretty overwhelming.”

Visible in the video were cracks in the clay pipe and joints separating between pipe sections. Additional silt and gravel and a thick dark horizontal line along each side of the pipe indicated how high water and sewage had risen and stayed for long periods of time.

“This is something we all needed to see,” Harms said. “When we have flooding down here during heavy rains, lots of dirt and silt and stuff seeps in through cracks. In flood waters, there is no place for it to go. It just sits there until the water slowly recedes.”

The video provided a quality view of a utility system that has been hidden from generations of city council members.

“We have complained about our forefathers not doing what needed to be done years back,” Mayor Larry Larsen said. “Well, now we are the forefathers and the job of fixing this is going to fall to us. We are not at crisis point yet, but this is not going to fix itself. We need to keep this topic on the table.”

Council members took no action, but agreed the video of the sewer’s interior provided valuable information.

BG Consultants engineer Jason Hoskinson presented bids his company received for construction of an entry sign at 9th and Peabody Sts. Vogts Construction, Newton, had the low bid of $22,787, which council approved.

A Kansas Department of Transportation grant will pay the majority of construction costs.

City Clerk Stephanie Lago presented a request from a coach for Wichita Warriors, a home school athletic league in Wichita. Their middle and high school teams play 8-man football, but have no home field. They wanted permission to use Peabody’s field for three games in Sept., none of which will conflict with any Peabody-Burns games.

Council members approved the request with the provision that the school district also approve it.

Shannon Denardi’s request for a $30 refund on her sewer bill after filling a backyard swimming pool was denied. A customer’s sewer use is billed as a percentage of his water use.

Traditionally, the city does not give sewer credit to people who use city water for irrigation or to fill pools.

Last modified Sept. 3, 2015

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